Most people have commitment fears and conflicts to varying degrees. It is how these fears and conflicts are managed that makes the difference between having a real opportunity for building a solid, enduring relationship and destroying every potentially viable partnership.

The mindset of worry anxiety can be considered to be someone living in the future. They are convinced something very bad is going to happen if they get to close to whatever they are afraid of. When someone engages in worrying they are creating and projecting images of negative outcomes.

Many fears can be traced to childhood experiences which are usually based on direct or indirect experience combined with a vivid imagination creating a negative outcome. Sometimes by the time the child becomes an adult they often cannot remember how or why they have a particular fear or phobia but it is still deeply imbedded in their mind.

Whatever causes the fear will cause both emotional and physical responses whenever it is encountered. When someone feels anxiety it produces feelings of tension and emotions of fear or even terror and induce a panic attack. These reactions are often highly disproportionate to what has been presented or what is actually happening.    

People can have all types of fears of intense dislikes, some of which are more rational, reasonably or understandable than others. Individuals can suffer from: 

Acrophobia is a fear of heights

Agoraphobia is a fear of open or public spaces 

Arachnophobia is a fear of spiders 

Technophobia is a fear of new technology

Hydrophobia is a fear of water

Nyctophobia is a fear of night or darkness

Xenophobia is a fear of foreigners or strangers

Homophobia is a fear of homosexuals

Claustrophobia is a fear of confined or enclosed spaces

Commitment Phobia is a claustrophobic response to intimate relationships. 

Some of the symptoms associated with any medium to intense phobic response are:


Excessive sweating




One or all of these symptoms are very often experienced by a person who is genuinely Commitment Phobic when the relationship feels like it is becoming too close.

Being afraid of anything, even if the fear is not rational or normal can severely restrict someone’s life. If someone is afraid of spiders they can really freak out if they see one but being afraid of a spider is not rational. I used to date a woman who was scared of spiders and would run outside screaming if she discovered one in her apartment. Unfortunately, her young son who was about 12 years old would also run behind his mother also screaming in fear so it was obvious she had transferred her irrational fear to her child.

Making a serious commitment to a relationship can be a very scary business and being afraid of commitment is not unusual or uncommon. Continually hearing that approximately half of all marriages end up in the divorce courts, with all the profound emotional and financial implications this can entail is hardly encouraging. A break up that does not involve a marriage certificate but a long period of co-habitation can be just as painful and problematical. We hear of stories of celebrity marriage breakdown and relationship failures almost every week and of course we may observe our parents, family members or friends go through a difficult break up.       

When you consider all the evidence of the pain and grief the failure of a committed relationship can cause it can put you off becoming seriously involved with someone. Making a relationship commitment can be frightening! Both men and women can be commitment phobic. Women with commitment conflicts can face problems and consequences that often put them at a disadvantage to men with similar issues.   

If a man is commitment phobic or has commitment issues he does not usually face the same pressures as a woman with similar issues. A man has more time to reflect and consider and simply wait. A man has the luxury of time to perhaps convince themselves that any anxieties they have about commitment will fade away; he can tell himself he can to continue to sow his ‘wild oats’ through his thirties, forties or beyond.

Men also have to beware of falling into relationships with women who are commitment phobic, or even worse narcissistic. Due to societal or cultural conditioning most men think women want to settle down or get married. If a woman has commitment issues she may come on strong at the beginning just like her male CP counterpart (who equally may have narcissistic tendencies). At first they seem to be very accepting of the relationship and even sexually aggressive and seductive but eventually they pull back and reject their partner. This usually leaves the man very shocked and confused by what has happened because this behavior does not fit their world view of a ‘normal’ female.    

Many CP’s might talk a good game when it comes to commitment but most of their ideas and notions about being in a committed relationship are based on fantasy and not reality. This means they do not consider that relationships require real effort and work to maintain at times. They don’t want to deal with the any hard work because often they do not believe there should be any work!  A relationship CP will be confusing because it is not consistent. The person who is very into their partner for a while suddenly cannot get away fast and far enough!

When you are involved with a CP you will very often send you very extreme and conflicted mixed messages:

  • At times they can be very emotionally present and available and at other times is very  emotionally unavailable 
  • At times they can be very romantic and at other times very distant
  • At times they can be very giving and warm and at other times very cold
  • At times they can be very tender and at other times very hostile
  • At times they can be very accepting and at other times very critical
  • At times they can be very seductive at other times very rejecting
  • At times they can be very intimate and at other times very withdrawn
  • At times they can be very sexually proactive or provocative and at other times very sexually withholding

When a person has commitment issues and inner conflicts there will eventually need and seek out options for maintaining distance in the relationship or be actively working on their exit strategy.

If someone begins a relationship knowing they are ultimately going to reject the person that is very unfair. To imply that you accept someone totally and then to begin find fault with aspects of that person they clearly cannot change is unreasonable and cowardly. Things that were clearly obvious when the CP was in hot pursuit of their partner are now raised as ‘issues’ because they are now looking for any way out – and fast! 

The hardcore CP’s simply does not want to be restricted, but has the desire to be eternally ‘footloose and fancy free’ yet at the same time expecting their partners to offer love, understanding, support and security. 

Understand this: when you are in a relationship with a CP it is much more likely to experience serious problems when things are going well and not when things are going badly. Special occasions (for example birthdays, or family get together) are often made ‘special’ for all the wrong reasons when you are involved with a CP, because these events are often seen as confirming an ongoing commitment or permanence regarding the relationship. The CP often begins to see these occasions as threats to their freedom. 

Finding someone with the genuine intention to embark on a committed relationship with you can be difficult at the best of times. Very often, the older you are the more difficult the goal can be. It can take effort to find such a person and it can involve effort to stay connected. Only you know if you are prepared to put in the effort to reap the potential rewards, but remember this: nothing in life is guaranteed and certainly not our relationships. Book Extract: ‘How to Avoid Making the Big Relationship Mistakes!’ Amazon